Sri Lanka produced a clinical bowling display to beat Pakistan by 16 runs and storm into the final of the ICC World Twenty20 here today.
After managing a modest 139 for four on a slow Premadasa track, Sri Lankan duo of Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis stifled the Pakistan batsmen in the final overs to restrict them to 123 for seven.
Pakistan needed 32 runs off last three overs which is considered to be quite achievable by Twenty20 standards but Mendis and Malinga held their nerves giving only five and four runs respectively of the 18th and 19th over.
Nuwan Kulasekara, who bowled the 20th over, didn’t have any pressure on him as he gave only seven runs to sent the capacity crowd into a tizzy.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath used the conditions to perfection as he recorded the best figures of three for 25 in four overs. Malinga gave only 19 runs in his four overs while Mendis was also impressive with figures two for 27.
Chasing a target of 140 was a tricky one on the slow Premadasa track as batsmen often got confused whether to attack or rotate the strike.
Imran Nazir was in his element as he tried to hit each and every ball out of the sight but failed to connect most of them before he dragged one off Mendis onto his stumps. Nazir made 20 with the help of three fours.
Then it was Angelo Mathews who got Sri Lanka back into the game trapping in-form Nasir Jamshed leg before and then deceived Kamran Akmal with a slower one.
From 57 for three, Pakistan soon became 64 for four, as Herath bowled Shoaib Malik with a classical left-armer’s delivery. He flighted one to invite Malik for a drive and the ball turned a shade after pitching to knock the batsman’s off-stump.
Having got a reprieve at 24, Hafeez who till now was happy to play the waiting game, chanced his arms. First he pulled Mathews for a boundary and then reverse-swept Herath.
He followed it up with a straight six.